Men remain reluctant to get vasectomy done

Taboo persists despite awareness drive

 Continuous efforts in creating awareness and monetary incentive notwithstanding, statistics on the performance of the vasectomy programme reveal that men remain reluctant in taking to the same.

With the help of the United Nations Population Fund, the Indian government, in 1998, launched the No Scalpel Vasectomy (NSV) programme to increase male participation in birth control measures and supplement tubectomy, wherein the women go under the knife.
In a reflection of society’s inability to be free from social stigmas, the number of people taking to vasectomy, even in urban, educated environments, is very low. This despite knowing that vasectomy involves fewer complications and is also faster.

According to statistics available with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the number of vasectomies performed in 2009-2010 in Karnataka was 12,341 and in 2010-11, this number was cut by nearly half and came down to 6,777. Compare this with the number of tubectomies performed and there is a shocking difference.

In 2009-10, around 3.8 lakh women underwent the surgery and in 2010-11, this number was 2.52 lakh. The Health and Family department of the State says that it has been making efforts to increase the number.

“The number of NSVs done last year was around 3,400. We have a number of incentives. Yet, there are just a few men who volunteer for this. The main reason behind this is the social stigma that men feel is attached to getting the surgery done. They prefer their wives undergoing tubectomy,” said R R Jannu, Mission Director, National Rural Health Mission.

“Why should I undergo surgery when my wife can? What if it harms me?” said a shocked Nagaraj, whose wife is pregnant with their second child. Doctors say it is the attitude of men that is the biggest hindrance to the programme.

 “The number of sterilisations done is dismal. Sometimes, it’s once a month and sometimes it’s zero. We tell men about the surgery, but they simply refuse to get it done. Men consider a surgery for birth control a stab to their male ego,” says a doctor at Vani Vilas Hospital. She goes on to add, “Vasectomy is easier and has lesser complications. Men should look at this than ponder over what society will think. Also, women need to be told that their husbands can get the surgery done and it’s not their sole responsibility.”

The Union government, under the programme, gives men Rs 1,500 if they undergo the surgery, while women get paid anything from Rs 600 to Rs 1,000, depending on the category they belong to.

The monetary benefit too has failed to increase the numbers.

“I have heard of this scheme and the doctor has told us, we will get money too, but it is too big a risk to take. Women have been getting the birth control surgery done for years. Why should men suddenly get it done?” says Veeranna another to-be father at Vani Vilas Hospital.

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